Your Honor, before sentence is pronounced, you said you’d allow me to stand up and say something to the court, and so I’d just like to state publicly that I’m sorry for everything that took place last Sunday evening.
I’m not making excuses for my behavior, Judge, but I think even you would have to agree with me there was no way the Giants, who were 9-4 and a virtual lock to make the playoffs, were going to lose Sunday night. No way. At home in the Meadowlands? To the Redskins? Especially knowing they have to go up to Buffalo next week and then play the Patriots in the last game of the year—and they could lose both of those games easily. In other words, lose this and maybe miss the playoffs altogether?
On top of which, Judge, I don’t have to tell you, the Redskins’ stellar safety, Sean Taylor, was shot dead a couple weeks ago, and at quarterback they had a guy who hadn’t started an NFL game in 10 years. These were the Redskins, the team we beat earlier in the year. The team we chewed up with Tiki Barber the time before that.
May it please the court, I don’t think in the 80-plus-year history of the National Football League any team has ever lost to a quarterback making his first start in 10 years, and I sincerely regret that I was unable to treat this remarkable athletic achievement on the part of Washington’s Todd Collins with the genuine admiration it should have been accorded by any responsible adult. I would like to apologize to anyone named Collins in O’Brien’s Pub at the time who was watching the game. I wasn’t myself.
I have a clean record, Judge, and whether it makes any difference or not, I’d point out this hasn’t been easy over the past few years watching the Giants. Watching the new starting running back, Brandon Jacobs, fumble repeatedly, and having swing passes bounce off his concrete hands. Perhaps you are a football fan yourself, Your Honor, and can understand being put through the mental stress of watching Eli Manning quarterback the team. Is he a leader of men, the way a quarterback should be, and the way he has shown he can be during any number of late-game comebacks? Or is he simply Peyton Manning’s lackluster little brother? A dud. An imposter. A flim-flam artist. Someone who betrayed our trust, our emotional life savings, when we traded for this No. 1 pick in the draft. I posit, Judge, that the constant clash of hope and despair, play by play and pass by pass, set up, if you will, a bipolar whirlpool that could suck even the strongest man’s equilibrium into the dark depths of anguish and insanity. Again, I know that’s no excuse.
I admit for the record that the Giants’ defense is better this year, thanks to the new coordinator from Philadelphia, Steve Spagnuolo, and the hard-nosed play of their rookie safety Aaron Ross. And this has enabled the team largely to survive the fourth-quarter, length-of-the-field drives for the winning score that the Giants so often allowed last season. And I further admit there have been fewer infuriating, stupid penalties on the Giants. More discipline. Fewer bonehead plays. Even the coach, Tom Coughlin, seems to have modified his more provocative ways. I know all of that should have made me less likely to be standing here, chastened, before the bench today.
But, Your Honor, there used to be such a thing as a crime of passion. I’m not a lawyer, and I don’t know if such things still exist on the books. Before you pass sentence, I would ask you to keep in mind the effect of seeing someone you love, someone you hold dear, suddenly incapacitated, writhing on the ground in excruciating pain. That could make even a Solomon snap, could it not, Your Honor? All I’m asking, Judge, is try to understand what I was going through when I saw them cart Jeremy Shockey off the field with a broken leg.
Shockey, the Giants’ All-Pro tight end, is the raging, ever-engorged, warrior heart of the Giants. He is the personification of “fight” in the team. And when I saw him taken off, and saw, minutes later, the doctors examine those X-rays flapping around in the bitter, 25-mile-an-hour gusts on the sidelines, something inside me broke just as surely as Shockey’s fibula. Shockey is lost for the year.
And so, apparently, am I.
I’ve looked at the police report, Your Honor. I have no recollection, quite frankly, of most of what’s on it. It says “spilled drinks,” “used profanity.” I see the words “drunk and disorderly.” “Resisting arrest.” “Public urination.” It says I kicked a police officer and struck two emergency medical technicians who were trying to stop me from biting through my own tongue after I’d gone into convulsions caused by the stun gun and the pepper spray.
I’m afraid I don’t remember any of this, Judge. But I’m not saying it didn’t happen. I’m sure it’s right. I’m sure I did all of that. And for all of that I apologize and promise to make full restitution and pay all medical costs.
There’s nothing really to say in my defense, other than to throw myself at the mercy of the court and ask you to take this into account: You saw the game, Your Honor, didn’t you?
Wherever you send me, please let there be a satellite dish.
Roger Director is the author of I Dream in Blue: Life, Death, and the New York Giants.